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Legendary Climber Doug Scott Dies at 79

He was the first British climber to the top of Mount Everest

Legendary climber Doug Scott has died at age 79. He passed away at his northern Lake District home early on Monday. He had been diagnosed with a brain tumour earlier this year. With Dougal Haston, he was the first Brtish climber to summit Mount Everest in 1975.

Two years after Everest, Scott broke both his legs while descending Baintha Brakk, the 7,285-metre Karakorum peak known as The Ogre., an infamous Himalayan peak. It required very serious technical climbing at high altitude. Scott managed to reach the summit, but during the descent he slipped on the ice, swung like a pendulum on his rope and smashed both legs.

His climbing partner, Chris Bonington, was also injured. Bonington was able to help Doug down initially, but he too had a fall on the descent that broke some ribs, and he developed pulmonary edema. He was in bad shape. Scott spent nine days crawling down the Ogre without food or painkillers, before a group of comrades managed to rescue the two men. The story didn’t emerge at the time, partly because Scott was ashamed about what happened.

Apart from his first ascent of the southwest face of Everest with Haston, all his other Himalayan climbs were achieved in lightweight or pure alpine style. He pioneered big wall climbing on Mount Asgard on Baffin Island, El Capitan in Yosemite, Denali in Alaska, Changabang, Nuptse, Kangchenjunga, Shishapangma and Shivling in the Himalaya.

Scott made over 40 first ascents in the Greater Ranges around the world. On Everest he bivied with Haston in a small snow cave without oxygen, 100 metres below the summit. In January 1985, Scott, Greg Child and Rob Wood made the second winter ascent of Grand Central Couloir V on Colonel Foster on Vancouver Island. Read about Wood and Scott’s adventures here.

He started climbing at the age of 13 after his interest was sparked during trips to the Peak District. Scott was a past president of the Alpine Club and received the Piolets d’Or lifetime achievement award.

In 2018, Scott visited Canada to take part at the Banff Mountain Festival where he spoke with Geoff Powter for Voices of Adventure.

He later went on a number of lecture tours and raised funds for a group he co-founded called Community Action Nepal. A spokesperson for the charity said: “He passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning, surrounded by his family. He was in good spirits right until the end and never stopped fighting.”

Legends Doug Scott and Allen Steck in Banff Photo Pat Morrow

Scott’s Big Climbs

1965: Tarso Tiroko, Tibesti mountains of Chad with Ray Gillies, Clive Davies and Pete Warrington
1967: South face of Koh-i-Bandaka, Hindu Kush with Ray Gillies
1970: Salathe Wall of El Capitan with Peter Habeler
1972: Mount Asgard, Baffin Island with Dennis Hennek, Paul Nunn and Paul Braithwaite
1974: Changabang, first ascent with Bonington, Haston et al
1974: Pic Lenin, Pamirs, with Clive Rowland, Guy Lee, Braithwaite
1975: Southwest face of Everest, with Haston
1976: South face Denali, Alaska, with Haston
1977: Baintha Brakk (more commonly known as The Ogre), Karakoram, with Bonington, and descent with both legs broken at the ankle with the selfless help of Mo Anthoine and Clive Rowland
1978: Mount Waddington, Canada, with Rob Wood
1979: North ridge of Kangchenjunga, with Pete Boardman and Jo Tasker.
1979: Nuptse, North face, Nepal, with Georges Bettembourg, Brian Hall and Alan Rouse
1981: Shivling, India, with Bettemboug, Greg Child and Rick White
1982: Shishapangma, Tibet, south face, with Alex MacIntyre and Roger Baxter-Jones
1983: Lobsang Spire, Karakoram, with Child and Peter Thexton
1984: Chamlang, East ridge, Nepal, with Michael Scott, Jean Afanassieff and Ang Phurba
1988: Jitchu Drake, Bhutan, with Prabhu and Victor Saunders
1992: Nanga Parbat, Central Mazeno peaks, with Sergey Efimov, Alan Hinkes, Ang Phurba and Nga Temba.
1998: Drohmo, South pillar, Nepal, with Roger Mear
2000: Targo Ri, Central Tibet, with Julian Freeman-Attwood and Richard Cowper

Voices of Adventure with Scott